Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 101

The weekly roundup of internet awesomeness:

  1. I’m a sucker for year-end mashups: Pop Danthology 2013.
  2. Fascinating: A British Teacher’s Archive of Confiscated Toys.
  3. I identify with this girl so, so much: This Girl’s Reaction to Engagement Season Is Pretty Much Perfect.
  4. Who doesn’t think it would be a ton of fun to hang out with the four of them? Hunger Games: Catching Fire Unscripted Interview with Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Sam Claflin, and Jena Malone.
  5. The 28 Funniest Notes Written by Kids in 2013 (#22 is my favorite).
  6. Story of my life: 18 Struggles of Being the Only Punctual Person in Your Friend Group.
  7. Pretty cool: 1500 students performing “Cups” from Pitch Perfect.
  8. Amazing illustration: Here’s to 2013!
  9. People make videos like this because they know that people like me will cry: 2013: What Brought Us Together.
  10. On a related note, this also made me cry: WestJet Finds Out What Passengers Want for Christmas, Leaves Presents at Baggage Claim.

(Image via Visually Overwhelming)

Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 100 (AKA, My Greatest Hits)

Over the two plus years I’ve had this little blog, I’ve started several projects that I haven’t exactly followed through with, despite the best of intentions. But one project I have not abandoned is this one, my weekly roundup of fun internet finds. In celebration of the fact that this is my one hundredth (!!) time writing a “Things That Are Awesome” post, I thought it would be fun to feature some of my all-time favorite items from the previous 99 posts. So herein I present, Things That Are Awesome: The Greatest Hits.

From Volume 1 – One of my all-time favorite Game of Thrones parodies, Damn It Feels Good to Be a Lannister.

From Volume 4 – Mindy Kaling’s hilarious and on-point guide to women in the movies, Flick Chicks.

From Volume 5 – A supremely well-done video chronicling 100 Years of Street Style in East London.

From Volume 9 – The Kim Kardashian Divorce Skit from SNL still makes me laugh so hard. The Bruce Jenner face!

From Volume 11 – And Beyonce’s I Was Here video still makes me cry. We all bow down to Bey.

From Volume 14 – I can’t imagine how long it took her to make this, but I’m glad she did: One Woman A Capella Disney Medley.

From Volume 15 – Anyone who has been reading this blog for a second could tell you I’m a die hard Love Actually fan, which is why the oh-so-funny Hate Actually article is still one of my favorite things.

From Volume 16 – I’m always rooting for Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to wind up together, but in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy them singing What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? together.

From Volume 18 – This Hunger Games Spoof Trailer kills me. The reaction when Prim is reaped = priceless.

From Volume 21 – Another SNL skit I’m mildly majorly obsessed with, Bein’ Quirky with Zooey Deschanel. Kristen Wiig’s Bjork will never, ever get old. Never ever. (“I made a sweater for an octopus. Plus I left one extra hole for its dreams and ideas.”)

From Volume 29 – Chandler Bing is my favorite Friends character (no questions asked), so I love this tumblr: Chandler Dances on Things.

From Volume 33 – Of all the elaborate proposal videos I’ve seen on the interwebs, this one just might take the cake.

From Volume 34 – This tweet from Lena Dunham will forever and always give me chills.

From Volume 37 – Fighting the good fight against font snobbery: I’m Comic Sans, Asshole.

From Volume 41 – Any comparison to Mean Girls is a good one in my book, but this one is especially wonderful: The US Women’s Gymnastics Team as Mean Girls.

From Volume 42 – My hatred for 50 Shades of Grey knows no bounds; thus, this Goodreads review is sheer brilliance.

From Volume 46 – Overlaying Mitt Romney quotations on Lucille Bluth pictures is endlessly amusing to me, even a year after the election.

From Volume 48 – Beautiful photographs of Newman and Woodward. Doesn’t get much more lovely than those two.

From Volume 51 – I go to Williams-Sonoma and want to buy ALL THE THINGS, but I find this funny anyway: The Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog.

From Volume 54 – As any Arrested Development fan knows, you have got to watch the show multiple times to truly appreciate the layers upon layers of jokes: 53 Arrested Development Jokes You Probably Missed.

From Volume 57 – The 26 Most Puzzling Photographs of Leonardo DiCaprio Ever Taken. I’ll never let go, Leo. I’ll never let go.

From Volume 60 – In which I reiterate that I want to be Jennifer Lawrence’s best friend: 22 Jennifer Lawrence Reaction GIFs.

From Volume 63 – The award for the best Honest Trailer ever goes to…The Notebook.

From Volume 68 – Just dying: Family Feud Fails.

From Volume 70 – I know she took some heat for her alleged lack of professionalism, but I love her: News Anchor Laughs at Ryan Lochte. Jeah!

From Volume 74 – Check out these 20 Hilarious Pinterest Fails. Nailed it.

From Volume 79 – This makes me smile: 21 Heartwarming and Beautiful Facts About Mr. Rogers.

From Volume 82 – My all-time favorite Pinterest board has to be My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler.

From Volume 85 – At last, a correction to the first song I remember really loving: It’s Finally Ironic.

From Volume 87 – It’s about time for a West Wing marathon re-watch, no? The West Wing Cast Just Caught up over Twitter and It Was the Best.

From Volume 90 – Two of my favorites, being hilarious together: Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake and hashtags. #sogood.

From Volume 91 – It’s tough to think of a better way to spend your Thursday nights than playing the Scandal Drinking Game, amirite?!?

From Volume 94 – Stunning accuracy: If Every Big Ten School Were a Parks and Rec Character. Nobody likes you, Jerry!

From Volume 97 – My love for Aziz Ansari knows no bounds: Aziz Ansari Just Compared Spoiled Youth to World’s Most Hated Font, Comic Sans.

(Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9)

Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 26

(Images via Entertainment Weekly)

The kinda-weekly roundup of internet gems:

  1. I admit it: I”m semi-obsessed with the Hunger Games. That’s why I find this map of Panem fascinating. The amount of detail and the careful thought process the makers put into it is amazing.
  2. And one more Hunger Games thing – posters for the movie, if it had been directed by other famous directors. So good. I think I like the Nancy Meyers one best: “She’s been chosen…but can she choose?”
  3. This will sound dorky, but it drives me crazy when people don’t use the Oxford comma. Here’s a good reason why.
  4. One of the most emblematic parts of my childhood? American Girl dolls. Here’s a piece I completely identify with.
  5. One Tiny Hand. This is both really creepy and completely hilarious.
  6. Another week, another set of cute dog pictures – The Bizarre Ways That Dogs Like to Sleep. Too cute not to post.
  7. I used to work as a writing tutor during college, so I found this particularly hilarious: Lines from The Princess Bride that Double as Comments on Freshman Composition Papers. “You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
  8. A 12-year-old rants against plain donuts. Hilarious. Sample line: “It’s just a BAGEL! A BAGEL!”
  9. Zoopreme Court: pictures of Supreme Court justices as animals. This will be funny to approximately no one but me.
  10. Between the return of Mad Men last Sunday and the return of Game of Thrones this one, it’s a pretty great few weeks to be a TV lover. Sunday is Coming.

Want more awesome? Ask and you shall receive.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

I’ll start by saying I’m a huge fan of the Hunger Games books, so obviously my entire perception of this movie is colored by that fact. It would be ridiculous for me to even attempt to talk about the movie as a stand-alone feature; I watched it through the lens of my experiences with the book and comparisons are inevitable.

With that said, I thought this movie was good, though not great. It’s a solid adaptation. My biggest fear with something like this is that Hollywood will take a book I love and totally ruin it (I’m looking at you, creators of One Day. I still haven’t recovered from hearing Anne Hathaway’s “British” accent). And that’s decidedly not the case here. This is a good film. They did the book proud.

However, while the movie was faithful to the book, I still felt it was missing something. It’s hard for me to describe, but there was something about the movie that was a little off; it was lacking some intangible magic. It was a good re-creation, but it never transcended beyond being a good re-creation and into being a great movie. Something in the…spirit of the book, for lack of a better word, was missing.

One problem I had with the movie is that, even though it was a fairly long film (140 minutes, give or take), it felt fast. I could feel the filmmakers trying to get in every detail, and while that’s nice, it made some parts feel rushed. For example, I would have liked more development of the Katniss/Rue alliance (it goes by SO quickly in the movie!), and a little more Katniss/Peeta cave time. A more Harry Potter-like approach might have been good here. What I mean is that, especially with the last few books (maybe from book 3 on), the Harry Potter films didn’t feel the need to cram in every detail, instead choosing the most essential pieces and changing things slightly, where necessary for cinematic effect. As a result, the Harry Potter movies capture the aforementioned “spirit” of the novels, which is where the Hunger Games struggled.

One thing I loved about the movie was that you get all the outside perspectives that are missing from the novel (which only focuses on Katniss’s point of view). You get to see the game-makers at work, Haymitch bargaining with sponsors, and a bit of the reactions in the districts. This was particularly effective when they showed the uprising in District 11 after Rue died. That part really got me (yes, I cried). I would have liked to see more in District 12 though – like how Katniss’s mom, Prim, and Gale were handling her being in the games. We got a few glimpses of them, but on the whole, the film gave them little to do. I would argue they could have done more, given the structure of the movie.

Every casting decision in this movie was eagerly-awaited and much debated by fans, and I would say they got each part right. Everything hinges on Jennifer Lawrence, and I loved her in this role. Every time the camera cut to her after a big moment, her facial expression was just spot on. I have one quibble, and this is not with Lawrence, but rather with the makeup department: she looked way too healthy and strong! Wasn’t there something they could have done with makeup to make her look more like a semi-starved, impoverished girl at the beginning? She looked so healthy and radiant.

I also liked Josh Hutcherson a lot – he does a good job with what he’s given, but the character of Peeta is more sharply-defined in the book. For instance, the book gives you a deeper sense of the extent of Peeta’s feelings for Katniss, and a clearer picture of how hard he worked to save her life in the arena, teaming up with the careers and such. Hutcherson also seemed to play Peeta more solemn and contemplative, which was fine, but I wanted to see more of the Peeta who won the crowd over with his charisma and humor.

As for the rest: Liam Hemsworth didn’t annoy me (which was better than I expected). It will be interesting to see how he fares, acting-wise, in later movies, where Gale has a much more prominent role. Stanley Tucci was a gem, and you could just tell that as an actor, he was totally into this. I also thought Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson were great, although Haymitch wasn’t what I imagined from the books. I feel you get a much better sense of who Haymitch is, and why Haymitch is the way he is, in the books (as opposed to here, where he’s mostly the funny drunk guy). In the books you also get a better sense of the Katniss/Haymitch dynamic and how they’re able to communicate with each other so well when she’s in the arena. That was lacking here.

All in all, I liked this movie. Though I hate to throw in another Harry Potter comparison, my hope for the Hunger Games series is that it follows the trajectory of Harry Potter. The HP films, in the beginning, were more about being scene-by-scene replicas of the books. Over time, the filmmakers became more confident and creative and, as a result, the later HP films are just excellent. I hope that happens with the Hunger Games, too, and that the second and third movies are even better than the first. I think they’ve got the right bunch of actors here, so they could definitely pull it off.

My Grade: B+

Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 20

(image via Eleni’s Bakery)

The weekly-ish roundup of internet awesomeness:

  1. This week in Downton Abbey internet finds…comparisons of the cast onscreen and off. For some of them the difference is crazy! Particularly Mrs. O’Brien and Mrs. Hughes – both so pretty in real life!
  2. Oh, wait, there’s more Downton. This video (from BBC Comic Relief) is kind of old but SO hilarious. I especially love the girl playing Mary – the way she widens her eyes at everything killed me. And Kim Cattrall as Cora! So good.
  3. Cougar Town comes back on February 14 (what, what! celebrate!). Anyway, here’s a cute video of the cast pitching new names for the show (“Seinfeld and Cox? Oh, that’s weird.”) And, on a related note, if you don’t mind being spoiled on some plot developments – a season 3 highlight reel. Cannot tell you how excited this makes me.
  4. A “make your own music video” with New Girl’s theme song. I thought this was pretty cute, and anytime I get to see the gang do the slo-mo chicken dance is a good time for me.
  5. You know February 14 is Valentine’s Day, but did you know February 13 is Galentine’s Day? You do if you watch Parks and Rec, I’m sure. Find out how to create the perfect Galentine’s Day brunch here. I love Leslie Knope.
  6. Oscar-themed cookies! If I had an extra $75 to blow on something completely meaningless, I’d buy these and throw a fancy Oscar party. Also, there is an Uggie the dog cookie! Too precious to eat, I think.
  7. Ellen DeGeneres, per usual, manages to handle tough situations with humor and grace. Great clip, great message.
  8. What would happen if Lana Del Ray’s Video Games combined with the Hunger Games? This would happened, and it would be fantastic.
  9. If Jean Dujardin starred in every movie, I would not complain.
  10. I love this blog post from Rick Steves. One line, in particular, resonated with me: “It takes discipline to let serendipity trump carefully laid plans.” That is such a good travel philosophy, and one I’m sometimes afraid I forget.

And in case you missed it: The Awesome Archives

Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 18

(image via Media Bistro)

The semi-weekly roundup of internet awesomeness:

  1. One of my favorite places I’ve ever visited was the Cinque Terre, so you can imagine how sad I was to hear about the devastation in Vernazza (torrential rainfall, flooding, and mudslides) last fall. That’s why this project – artists painting the boarded-up doorways in the damaged areas of town – made me so happy. I truly hope the town rebuilds (and the tourism business returns).
  2. Whenever I’m sad, I’m just going to watch this. So much Ron Swanson love!
  3. All the Shit “X People” Say videos are getting old, but I actually enjoyed this one, since before I came to law school I was a project manager for 3 years. These are all true and made me laugh – I especially loved the phone intros and wrap-ups. So, so true. Although, the video did miss some phrases that I waaaay overused: “circle back,” “follow up,” “go-live critical,” “back to baselines,” and “who’s owning this task?”
  4. Paula Deen’s Health Food Cookbook. Is this funny or really, really sad?
  5. How have I never heard of Regretsy before? So hilarious, especially this post. Dying.
  6. Have you seen my croquet cleats? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Schmidt from New Girl is the absolute best. This douchebag jar montage from last week’s episode is amazing.
  7. In the next few months, I’m sure I’ll keep mentioning how excited I am for the Hunger Games movie (and how that kind of makes me feel like a silly tween). Anyway, point one is: brace yourselves. And point two is: this parody trailer is fun.
  8. 32 Pictures That Will Make You Say Awwwwww. They weren’t kidding – these really will.
  9. This is an oldie but a goodie – James van der Memes. Dawson crying always makes me laugh.
  10. I haven’t seen Shame yet, so I can’t say if Michael Fassbender deserved an Oscar nomination. However, judging on hotness alone, he did. Thus – 50 Reasons the Oscars Don’t Matter Anymore.

30 Day Book Challenge in One Day (I’m That Good)

I saw this 30 day book challenge floating around the interwebs and thought it sounded like fun. However, dragging it out for over 30 days (and finding enough substance for each prompt to fill 30 posts) did not sound so fun. So, I condensed it a bit. Or, a lot. Whatever. Voila!

Day 01 – Best book you read last year:

Does it make me sound like a crazy teenager to say the Hunger Games trilogy? I hope not, because that’s definitely my answer.

Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times:

When I like a book, I tend to re-read it frequently, so there are many of these – all the Harry Potter books, A Year in Provence, Summer Sisters, and many more.

Day 03 – Your favorite series:

Harry Potter. Obvi. Next question.

Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series:

Close call, but probably Goblet of Fire. I think it’s because this seems to be the book where they all start growing up, and the stakes get raised a TON with the resurrection of Voldemort. Also, I think the Triwizard Tournament and the Yule Ball are so fun.

Day 05 – A book that makes you happy:

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. It’s easy to read, and all his stories are so delightful. Definitely the ultimate travel fantasy.

Day 06 – A book that makes you sad:

There are many. For one, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – so chilling. Also, Cold Mountain. Man, that ending is crushing. Whyyyy, after all that time, did that have to happen? And, this will sound silly, but…The Polar Express. It always makes me sad when he loses that damn bell (stupid hole in his pocket!). And, I remember as a child being disturbed that the boy was the only one in his family who was a true believer.

Day 07 – Most underrated book:

Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. And, please, do not watch the movie version of this before you read the book. In fact, do not watch it ever. Nicholas Cage + terrible Italian accent + attempts at emoting = disastrous.

Day 08 – Most overrated book:

I don’t know if this is technically overrated since I think many people would probably agree that it’s terrible writing, but the Da Vinci Code. That damn book was everywhere for awhile, and it annoyed me so much. Also, Beloved. Is it sacrilegious to say that I just. don’t. get. this. book.? Also, part 2, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Also, part 3, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Too pretentious.

Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving:

To me, Russian literature does not exactly scream “fun,” but I loved both Eugene Onegin and Crime and Punishment. In fact, taking a Russian lit class and reading those two novels is what really made me a fan of Russian authors circa the 19th century (which also sounds pretentious, but I’m owning it).

Day 10 – Favorite classic book:

Obvious choices, but either Pride and Prejudice or Little Women. Both so, so good.

Day 11 – A book you hated:

Twilight, Twilight, Twilight. I felt offended that I spent money buying this book (lesson learned: patronize your local library). I actually laughed out loud on several occasions while reading it, and let me tell you – it’s not because Stephanie Meyer is a brilliant humorist (sidenote: do you remember when Stephen King said she couldn’t write worth a damn? My hero.)

Okay, Twilight was obvious. Other books that really disappointed me? A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway – both of the protagonists were so unlikable that I couldn’t have cared less when Catherine Barkley died at the end. Also, as previously mentioned, Beloved by Toni Morrison. Ugh, ugh, ugh. It’s really gross to try to write a coherent paper about a book that you just cannot stand, as I had to do with Beloved during high school. And finally, Saturday by Ian McEwan. I think McEwan is a fantastic writer generally (see: Atonement. Stunning book.), but I really hated this one. And the protagonist is such a creeper.

Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore:

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. The night before my junior year of high school started, I stayed up until like 3 am reading it. I thought it would end up being an all-time favorite, but I’ve never read it again. And, the more I think about it, the more it creeps me out. You know what scene I’m talking about, right?

Day 13 – Your favorite writer:

Oh so many, but you know who I’m going with? David Sedaris. He never fails to make me laugh, and sometimes you just need to laugh.

Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer:

Me Talk Pretty One Day. I love all this books, but I think this is Sedaris at his best. I love when he talks about learning French and his life in Paris.

Day 15 – Favorite male character:

Seems like an obvious answer, but I have to go with Mr. Darcy. Hot damn.

Day 16 – Favorite female character:

Hermione. Elizabeth Bennet. Abilene from the Help. All strong, smart women.

Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book

Not sure this is my favorite book, but one of my favorite quotations ever is from Corelli’s Mandolin: “Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love,” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”

Day 18 – A book that disappointed you:

This also feels sacrilegious, but The Great Gatsby. I liked it, but I had built it up in my head so much that it was bound to disappoint. I just didn’t love it the way I thought I would.

Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie:

In general, Hollywood always gets it wrong. But two times it got it right? Pride and Prejudice (both the BBC version and the newer one with Keira Knightley). And, I really love Under the Tuscan Sun. It is NOTHING like the book (other than the fact that it happens to take place in Tuscany), but it’s a delightful movie.

Day 20 – Favorite romance book:

One Day. This is also a good segue from question 19, as I’m still weeping over the way Hollywood butchered this story. Anne Hathaway’s “British” accent continues to haunt my nightmares.

Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood:

Any American Girl Book, but especially the Molly stories.

Day 22 – Favorite book you own:

Probably the entire Harry Potter series. This whole post is basically an ode to my enduring love for Harry Potter.

Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t:

Yikes, there are so many. But, to name a few? War and Peace, Lolita, and Master and Margarita have been high on my list for awhile now.

Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read:

On Beauty by Zadie Smith. White Teeth was the one that got all the critical acclaim, but I enjoyed On Beauty much more. It’s a hidden gem.

Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most:

Bridget Jones, in the sense that I feel like I need to get my shit together. Sloane Crosley (who’s not a character, I know), also in the sense that I feel like I need to get my shit together. Beth from Little Women, in that I’m always the quiet one (though hopefully I don’t die from scarlet fever). Hermione, in that sometimes I might be a know-it-all (although, of course, I am ultimately lovable and brave). Now where’s my Ron?

Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something

I don’t know if it changed my opinion about one specific thing, but a book that changed how I looked at life in general was Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything by James Gleick. The basic gist of the book is examining how we’re trying to do everything in our lives faster nowadays, but asking: to what effect? Where is it getting us? Now, I think about this idea often as I go through normal things in my daily life. There are two examples that Gleick gives that I always think about: pushing the “door close” button on an elevator (which apparently doesn’t make the door close any faster, but which people – including myself – do anyway) and microwaving something for 33 seconds rather than 30 because it’s quicker to punch “3” twice rather than punching “3” and then “0” (this is something I never did but, ironically, started doing after I read the book).

Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending:

My Sister’s Keeper. It comes out of nowhere and just guts you. Also, you can add this book to the list of ones that Hollywood butchered by COMPLETELY changing the ending from the book. And also, by casting Cameron Diaz.

Day 28 – Favorite title:

100 Years of Solitude. So evocative. And man, I love that book.

Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked:

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. This got a lot of bad reviews, but I actually found it pretty good. I didn’t really enjoy all the musings on her own relationship (a little too self-involved, but that seems to be a hallmark of her writing). However, I loved her research on what marriage means in other cultures and how it has evolved over time. So fascinating.

Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time:

I honestly don’t know if I have an all time favorite; I think different books are good for different moods. It might be the entire Harry Potter series. It might be Little Women, or Pride and Prejudice, or Corelli’s Mandolin, or A Year in Provence, or 100 Years of Solitude, or Me Talk Pretty One Day. All excellent.